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 Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-08-24 21:39

I've been looking recently for a non-astronomically-priced ligature that does the following:
(a) has a pressure plate that tightens against the center of the reed, and
(b) is designed not to touch the edges or any other part of the reed.

What I have in mind would mimic the way I hold a reed on the mouthpiece with my thumb when first play-testing a new reed or one I've just adjusted in some way. My thumb presses against the center of the bark. Reeds nearly always sound better that way than when I've assembled the mouthpiece with any of the ligatures I've tried, which all in one way or another put pressure against a length of the reed that's much longer that my thumb's coverage area.

The principal would be to get as close as possible to a single point of contact instead of having rails or separate points of a ligature define the plane of the entire reed. It seems as though if greater freedom of motion for the reed is helpful in any way, the least restrictive contact should maximize the result.

I wonder if there's something already available commercially instead of my having to try to jury-rig something to test the idea.


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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: A Brady 
Date:   2021-08-25 00:26

The Francois Louis is pretty close to what you describe; sort of a skeletal version of the metal Otto Link ligature.


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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-08-25 00:44

Thanks, AB. The pressure plate on the clarinet ligs (they're mostly for sax) looks about the same length as the plates in an Optimum or the older Versa (not the VersaX).

It might give me some ideas if I have to rig my own test piece.

Am I the only one who much prefers the response of almost any reed when I'm holding it with my thumb?


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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-08-25 00:54

Though not personally much of a ligature guy, I think the search Karl is well founded.

There is just something magical (and I am willing to consider it being some placebo effect) of playing a reed with solely the right thumb holding it in place, while presumably testing it before it being attached to a mouthpiece by a conventional ligature.

To the extent that a ligature mimics that "thumb test" I'd be interested if it really does improve play.

Then again, the Francois Louis ligature mentioned seems to come pretty darn close to emulating that grip, and it's not like I've heard it receiving particularly "a cut above the rest" reviews--which of course is in no way meant to disparage the ligature either.

I suspect as "meeting the basic tests of a ligature" goes that the product line, at the very least (I have not tried) exceeds such metrics.

Post Edited (2021-08-25 00:55)

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2021-08-25 01:49


I've always found cotton string to be a pretty close proximity to the thumb.

I used normal cotton garden string for years...wound just right in adjacent coils then tied off. It would slip down over the mouthpiece until tight.

On the physics side, I have no idea whether the pressure was exerted mostly on the thicker center part of the reed - or whether the force ended up on the reed's two edges, but it played beautifully.

Eventually the cotton would start looking dirty and I'd have to make a new one. As the years rolled by, I got lazy and started using my metal ligature again, but I really did enjoy using those cotton string ligatures.


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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: A Brady 
Date:   2021-08-25 01:50

I have several FL ligs for various instruments, and they’re quite good, although they can be prone to slippage.
I’ve been on Ishimori quite consistently for a few years now, although I feel that the mouthpiece/reed combination is responsible for about 90% of the playing experience.
As to ligs, if I feel better with a particular setup, that’s what I will use. If I believe I’m playing easier and sounding better, then I truly will play better.
I don’t care if this can be detected on a spectrum analyzer, or, frankly, if someone in the audience can tell one lig or setup from another; if I feel better, I play better.


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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-08-25 02:10

A Brady wrote:

> As to ligs, if I feel better with a particular setup, that’s
> what I will use. If I believe I’m playing easier and sounding
> better, then I truly will play better.
> I don’t care if this can be detected on a spectrum analyzer,
> or, frankly, if someone in the audience can tell one lig or
> setup from another; if I feel better, I play better.

To be clear, I'm not looking for a way to change what anyone else hears, either. I don't play (beyond testing) with my thumb on the reed, and I adjust my reeds, like everyone else, to play with whatever ligature I'm using. I'm intrigued by the difference in response (which only I will feel unless it's so bad that it affects what others hear, too), in the way the ligature affects how reeds respond. So many reeds seem to play well when I test them (holding with my r. thumb and playing LH notes) and not when I put the ligature on. I just find it a tantalizing phenomenon.


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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-08-25 02:13

You've probably already considered it, but my vote would be the Vandoren Leather ligature. It comes with (3) "plates." One is the "wavy" metal, which really is a Bonade double rail variation. But the other two are a soft centrally located leather pad and a hard centrally located leather pad. I was just going through another ligature shoot out today and that one was probably my favorite while I was on cane (still not bad on plastic either).

................Paul Aviles

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: Jarmo Hyvakko 
Date:   2021-08-25 11:06

I have just bought an yany-sixs by yanagisawa. A duo ligature like bg duo: fits both clarinet and alto sax. A metal ligature that touches reed-mouthpiece only at 8 points: four of them are made from ebonite touching the mouthpiece and four small metal ones touching the reed. Doesn't touch the edges of the reed. Not even Legere european. Unlike Ishimori and Vandoren it fits also the slimmer mouthpieces like Zinner and Playnick. Very free sound. The only negative thing is, that it has "a-sax" stamped on it but no "cl"!

But price tag around 200$. Astronomical?

I have also fantasized about a thumb ligature. I even dreamed about designing one and become a millionare. The brand name would have been "Le Pouce".

Perhaps trying the F.Louis ligature and glue a clever shaped soft patch in the center of the plate?

Jarmo Hyvakko, Principal Clarinet, Tampere Philharmonic, Finland

Post Edited (2021-08-25 11:10)

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2021-08-25 14:35

For price, adaptability and compatability with both cane and synthetic reeds, I've found nothing else matches the Luyben; And I can not detect any gain in sound quality compared to the many other ligatures I"ve tried but that's more me and my amateur sound than the material. No fuss, reliable.

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: ruben 
Date:   2021-08-25 15:28

Dear Karl: great minds work alike! I also found that one's thumb is the best ligature. So I developed a ligature that reproduces the effect of the thumb, the thumb's effect consisting in:
-direct vertical pressure on the middle of the heel of the reed that doesn't the least bit bend the reed. (as you said)
-a patch on the heel that reproduces the texture of the thumb: thin skin and, a little bit of fatty tissue underneath
The ligature is ready, looks beautiful, is ultra-light and sturdy and slips on fast.. With a little bit of luck, we'll bring it out within the next year. The Rule of Thumb ligature

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-08-25 16:32

ruben, put me on the list!! :)


Post Edited (2021-08-25 16:33)

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: lmliberson 
Date:   2021-08-25 18:54


Take a look at this:

This ligature also comes in a couple other finishes.

Whether or not you find this to be "astronomical" is up to you but you can obviously spend a lot more for something not nearly as effective.

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: kilo 
Date:   2021-08-27 13:44

Hardware stores sell self-adhesive silicon rubber bumpers for cabinet doors. They are available in a package or on a strip, and quite reasonably priced. I wonder if one or two were applied to the solid part of a two-screw metal ligature and used in the inverted position if it would have the desired effect. The domed-shaped ones can be flattened, if desired, with a razor blade. The ligature could be further shaped using an old mouthpiece as a mold with a piece of softwood and a light mallet. (This is how you get a Selmer 404 ligature to fit on an Otto Link sax metal mouthpiece – you can use the mouthpiece itself as a mold because it's metal.)

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: Bob Barnhart 2017
Date:   2021-08-28 00:46


I think I’ve essentially tried your suggestion using a long/narrow strip taken from a .3mm Black BG mouthpiece patch down the middle of the Vandoren Optimum plate with the 4 “dots”. For me this was not better and not much different than the “Bonade” plate (with the verticals ribs).

For me, all of the Bonade-style ligatures DO focus the sound (I.e, make it denser or more compact) but I don’t feel like the edges are any more free or vibrant.

My favorite ligature is one that I make with 2 horizontal loops of 18-gauge “hookup wire”. Next, I find the Optimum with the horizontally ribbed plate to be the most free/vibrant option for me, with string as a strong alternative. These all allow the reed to vibrate freely with even pressure on the reed.

Bob Barnhart

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: donald 
Date:   2021-08-28 01:25

In about 2003 I designed a spring loaded ligature with a soft pad as the only contact with the reed, and called it "The Thumb". My friend, an engineer and instrument maker who apprenticed in Germany building bassoons from scratch, costed up how much it would be to make the prototype and then production models, and we decided to have a beer instead and just do more practise.
I've played a million ligatures, these days I settle for one of 3 depending on what I need.
- 90% of the time I use a Nova ligature from Bambu that has a metal place with the two "Bonade like" parallel strips in contact with the reed.
- If playing 2nd clarinet to my wife I use the Vandoren Leather ligature with the soft leather plate (which I would categorise as "most thumb like")
- when I last played a concerto, and maybe if this ever happens again, I used the BG Tradition (I was gifted one with gold plating, but for years used one with silver). This was in a Church with a very live but murky acoustic, and the BG Tradition just added a little more ring to the sound that was useful.
I've sworn to never buy another ligature again. Let's see how that goes but I've been pretty good over the last 5 years....

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: Micke Isotalo 2017
Date:   2021-08-29 00:58

Ruben, I hope yours will be suitable also to a German mouthpiece - or that you will make also a German version of it. :)

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: ruben 
Date:   2021-08-29 18:39

Thank you for mentioning this! We've kept this in mind, all the more so as I love the German sound.

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: Ed 
Date:   2021-08-29 19:07

Something like this seems to be along those lines

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-08-29 21:47
Attachment:  Single point ligature 001.JPG (134k)
Attachment:  Single point ligature 002.JPG (151k)
Attachment:  Single point ligature 003.JPG (184k)

Dan Shusta sent me some photos of a ligature he rigged up. He's sending one to me. I'm anxious to try it out. It's basically an O ring, a reed and a thumb screw.

These ideas are all fascinating.


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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2021-08-30 04:10

I tried all my ligatures today, comparing the resonance of all the notes on the F major scale from F3 up to B5, and how easy it was to do a legato transition from F3 to C5, F4 to C5, and G4 to E5. To my great surprise, string was the clear winner. It seemed to make a big difference in getting the C5 to speak without any hesitation.

I used special coated string that my husband had got from somewhere that is made for clarinet ligatures. All I did was to tied a big loop of string with a reef knot, wrap it round and round the top of the mouthpiece until there wasn't enough string to make another loop, and then push the whole assembly down until it wouldn't go any further.

I'm going to try using that as my standard approach for a bit.

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 Re: Ligatures - centered pressure
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-08-31 05:37

Some really good ideas have been put forth but they all have one or more of the following limitations I say with campyness:

1) they're not thumb size
2) they lack the oils on our skin
3) they're void of a fingerprint
4) they lack some degree of pliability as might been seen in our thumb tissue, and
5) the clarinet can sense that both our hands are free

Part of the "magic sauce" in the thumb ligature is the player saying, "dang, why can't I find a ligature as good as my thumb that would free up that hand being used as my ligature."

Once you free up that hand the clarinet knows, and reverts the reed back to suboptimal status, even if your friend supplies the thumb ligature for you.

This is well established science. ;)

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